Painting with a Twist…. And Craft Beer!

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The Doctor texted me after work on Friday and told me that he and Rowdy were going to Painting With A Twist that night. They had a special class that was featuring Swamp Head Brewery and would include some free samples of the local brewery’s wares. I asked him what time and he told me the class started at 7 but you want to get there at 6:45 to get prepared.

Now, if you have never heard of Painting with a Twist it’s an art based business where you and some of your friends go and learn to paint a specific drawing or painting and while you are doing that you can consume wine which you bring yourself, which is the Twist part.

http://www.paintingwithatwist.com/gainesville/

If you are older guy, like me, there is probably a misogynistic archaic portion of your brain that is thinking “Sounds like a chick thing.”, or something similar. And I confess when Rowdy had told me about the business a while back that was my natural, albeit Cro-Magnon, reaction.

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But this evening they were not only featuring beer, but Craft Beer from Swamp Head, which is one of our local breweries in Gainesville. And after thinking about it some more, why would I not want to hang out around a bunch of women imbibing in beer and wine.

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The Doctor also sent me a pic of his current location, the BrassTap, so I made sure the dog was walked, changed out of my work duds and headed out to join him.

When I got to BrassTap, I saw both father and son, Allan and Brad, were working behind the bar. I wasn’t sure what I wanted so Allan recommended the Terrapin Hopsecutioner (w/ Tangerine and Lemon Peel). I gotta admit it was pretty damn good, and this is from someone who is not as big a fan of IPAs as other people, like Allan, are. It definitely had a hoppy flavor which should satisfy anyone looking for that taste, but it didn’t have the harsh aftertaste that some IPAs have. I would definitely drink it again. It was also nice to score two more badges on the Untappd app.

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The Doctor and I sat around Philosophying and catching up with each other, then I was ready for another so I ordered the Erie Brewing Ol’ Red Cease and Desist. This was a Scotch style ale with a mild rye flavor and very little aftertaste. It was a good Scotch ale but not the best I have had.

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When I was finished with that one it was time to go and both the Doctor and I wanted to grab a bite before we got there. Luckily for us the studio is located right next door to McAlister’s Deli off of Newberry Road in Gainesville. So we stopped there and got a sandwich before we went to the class.

Rowdy met us there and went ahead to the class to make sure we were all seated together, while the Doctor and I wolfed down our food. And I have to point out that is really a shame because McAlister’s makes some pretty tasty sandwiches.

When we finished we walked around the corner to the studio and walked in and waited in line to pay for the evening class. After we paid we were handed our canvas and went into the studio and found Rowdy already decked out in her painting apron and saving two more for us along with our seats.

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When you arrive they have each seat equipped with the easel for your canvas, the brushes you will need, a large plastic cup with water for washing out the brushes (obviously we were using acrylic paints), and a palette with premeasured samples of the paints we would be needing for the evening. Ok, to be honest the “palettes” were actually paper plates, but when you are working with large numbers of people like this it makes more sense to use paper plates or you would end up having to clean off all of the palettes after every class.

And this particular class was pretty full already. And while it may have sounded misogynistic earlier, the class was made up of a majority of women. But there were a few other men there as well so the Doctor and I were not the only ones attending.

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Around the studio were the various paintings that had been done before for earlier classes and I saw some that I liked a lot. They represented a wide variety of styles. Not being an expert in Art I will not try to pass myself off as one on here.

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And before class began we were encouraged to help ourselves with a sample from the cooler that Swamp Head had provided for the event that evening. Their canned fare was available to us, which meant we could choose from Stump Knocker Pale Ale, Big Nose IPA, Wild Night Cream Ale and Cottonmouth Belgian Witbier. Unfortunately, my favorite of their year-round offerings was not there, Midnight Oil Oatmeal Coffee Stout. So I selected the Cottonmouth for my first sample. If you haven’t had it before, then you should as it is a nice clean witbier with just the right flavor.

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When the time arrived, our teacher, Katie (who I found out later is also the studio manager for Gainesville), began talking about the studio and explaining how things were set up and whether you had been there before or not that you would still end up enjoying yourself. She introduced her assistant for the evening, Holly, who would be going around and helping where she was needed.

Katie and Holy being Photo=bombed by the Doctor.
Holly and Katie being Photo-bombed by the Doctor.

Then she talked a little bit about the painting we would be doing that evening, the Swamp Head logo. And she introduced Nick Dunn, who is the Director of Operations at Swamp Head. He stood up and spoke a little bit about Swamp Head’s history and about what the logo represented and what the company believed in. I won’t try and quote him here. You can go the Swamp Head website and read that for yourself here:

http://swamphead.com/

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After he was done he sat back done with the other patrons who were painting. And Katie then mentioned some of the nice swag he brought along would be given away during various little contests throughout the night. This perked Rowdy’s ears up as she is all about the swag.

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So we began class by discussing the brushes and the paints and how to use them during the course of the evening. Then we started working on the background for the painting first. Now while I said I am no art expert, I have done some artwork over the years, mostly for my own enjoyment. But I usually just work in sketching, either with pencils or charcoal. And in that I usually work on the object of the drawing first and then fill in the background later. So this is a different way of thinking for me.

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Now, I am not going to go into the details of each step we took in the process as reading about it would not be the same as experiencing it. I will say that Katie was a good teacher in that she took her time explaining how to do what we needed to do and pacing the class so that everyone could catch up. She even worked in a couple of 5 minute breaks so we could stand and stretch. I will say that I was very glad to see that they had a camera on the easel that she worked off of and displayed it on a big screen TV in the back of the room, where we were. It made it much easier to see what she was doing and describing.

And Holly was very helpful throughout the evening as well, making sure folks had enough of the various colors we were using, pointing out ways to help out the students, and giving encouragement as she went along.

Both of these young ladies were very good at their job and you could tell they enjoyed doing it. I would recommend asking for them when you go. I know Rowdy wants to do her birthday party there and them to teach the class.

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A little more than halfway through the class I decided to get another sample and selected the Stump Knocker Pale Ale this time. It’s also a refreshing beer and probably my favorite of the year-rounds just after the Midnight Oil and Wild Night.

The contests throughout the night included posting a pic to social media and checking in at Painting with a Twist, the one receiving the most likes wins, another included painting temporary tattoos on each other and having a pairs contest to see which pair of tats had the best symmetry. And there was another but I don’t remember what it was. We didn’t win any of them but we still had fun.

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A young couple who sat across the table from us had brought their own wine and was sampling it and really didn’t know anything about Swamp Head. The young man came up to me and asked what beers were good. I told him that they were all good but it depended on what kind of beer style he liked. I asked him what he normally drank and he responded that he wasn’t a big beer drinker but he liked the usual stuff. I guessed that he meant a normal American Lager and steered him toward the Wild Night Cream Ale. I didn’t want to throw him into the deep end of the pool with an IPA or a Stout. He said that it tasted pretty good, so we may have discovered another convert to craft beer.

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In your face Macro!!

During the whole class music played in the background of a variety of artists, but I especially enjoyed listening to Darius Rucker’s Wagon Wheel, the Spinner’s Rubber Band Man, and a lot of older hits and quite a few of us were actually singing along.

A lot of picture taking took place at the end both by the patrons and the staff and the staff also took pictures throughout the night and later posted them Facebook. The two hours spent at the class went by fast and when we were done we all hand a painting to take home with us. I’m thinking I will hang mine in the brew house I plan on building later on.

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So all I can say is if you get an invite to go to Painting With A Twist then you should take the opportunity to go. Or make an opportunity yourself. You learn something new, get to meet new people, have a little alcohol and just enjoy yourself a lot.

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